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Zaid Ghayyur (Canada)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Mosaic of Thoughts, Passions and Aspirations of a Canadian Muslim Thinker, Oct. 12 2011
By Taha Ghayyur

A Mosaic of Thoughts by Wahida C. Vilante is not a mere compilation of random musings or philosophies of life. It is a unique intellectual endeavour of an outstanding Canadian Muslim thinker and leader of our time, who means every word that she pens. Throughout the book, her zeal for empowering the community, her passion for social justice and her vision for a more inclusive and harmonious world, is vivid and refreshing.

First of its kind topical anthology of over 90 essays, editorials, feature articles, speeches, reports, and analyses covers an array of issues that occupied Wahida's time as a social justice leader over the past two decades. She speaks her mind on matters ranging from human rights abroad to domestic violence at home.

Her intellectual depth on media relations, socio-political affairs, and contemporary challenges facing the human family is extraordinary. Moreover, her writings demonstrate a sound understanding of the essence of Quranic and Prophetic teachings in light of the realities of Muslim presence in North America.

This well-crafted work is divided into seven chapters, each comprising over a dozen articles. The first chapter, 'Human Rights and Social Justice', highlights the struggles of humans for justice and freedom, going as far back in history as the soul-stirring account of Bilal ibn Rabah, an enslaved African who was tortured by his master for embracing Islam as a way of life during the time of Prophet Muhammad, pace be upon him. Wahida passionately talks about the plight of Palestinian children based on her first-hand account of her visit to their occupied homeland, just before the second Intifada. She advocates for local social justice causes with the same fervour: from censuring the influence of advertisers on editorial content, to the underprivileged children of Kananaskis First Nations, to Islamophobia in North American media.

Another chapter focuses on political issues in Canada and abroad. The author encourages Canadians to be more politically literate and engaged to produce a more democratic country. 'My Canada' articulates her vision of Canada based on the era and ideals of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. In a position paper presented to the House of Commons, Wahida analyzes the relations between Canada and Muslim-majority countries and the lack of Canadian Muslim influence on local policies, and offers comprehensive recommendations for Canadian Foreign Policies based on a fruitful dialogue with and promotion of democracy in the Muslim world.

In the chapter titled, 'Life in CIC', the sub-headers could have been more meaningful, which primarily lists all Wahida's presentations made as a leader of Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC). However, as one peruses the pages of this chapter, he or she could not help but be moved by the clarity of this leader's mission and timeless wisdom. Her advice as a social worker and a community leader is still as relevant and practical today as it was a decade ago.

Wahida Valiante also examines the achievements of CIC's ground-breaking project, perhaps her most significant contribution to Canada and Canadian Muslims, the Islamic History Month (IHM). Islamic History Month (IHM) Canada, is an annual educational and cultural celebration to be held throughout the month of October, to allow Canadian Muslims to share their rich history and heritage with fellow Canadians. IHM, officially endorsed by the Canadian Parliament in 2007, has become a permanent part of Canada's multicultural calendar with similar events held across the country to build bridges between Canadian Muslims and the Canadian public.

'Muslim Families and Social Dynamics', the best and most rigourous chapter in my analysis, is kept for the last. This segment that occupies forty percent of anthology is where Wahida liberally shares her professional expertise as a social worker. She is not afraid to expresses her opinion on taboo topics in the Muslim community, such as divorce, domestic violence, foster parenting, and women empowerment. Given that Canadian Muslim divorce rate is higher than the average Canadian rate and the rise in reported incidents of domestic abuse, it's time a leader addressed these social dilemmas affecting Canadian Muslims. Her timely advice to Canadian Muslim spouses, parents, and children is methodically grounded in the Islamic framework of family therapy and the best practices of psychotherapy.

A Mosaic of Thoughts is not to be mistaken for a magazine with outdated articles, nor should it be consumed in one sitting. Each piece in this anthology is deliberately crafted retaining the original vision, passion, and urgency that sparked its composition. Its message is timeless and discourse is priceless. Wahida's captivating narrative coupled with practical wisdom will leave you wanting for more. Thus it should be read, consumed, and enjoyed one article at a time.

This engaging work, penned by one of the influential voices of Islam in North America, is more than a discussion on 'Mulsim issues'. It's an invitation to everyone into the discourse of Canadian Muslim challenges, opportunities and aspirations. It's a gift to the next generation of Canadians, both Muslims and their neighbours, who are sincere and serious about promoting our universal values of social justice, human rights, freedom of expression, peaceful coexistence, pluralism, civic engagement, and democracy.

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Taha Ghayyur is the Development Manager with [...]. He speaks and writes extensively on issues related to Muslim youth, leadership, community development, media and Islamic living in North America.

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